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The Reeler Blog

Faster, Pussycat! Kael! Kael!

Thanks to Jim Emerson for digging up this bruising critical duel of years past: Michael Atkinson versus Manohla Dargis on the passing of Pauline Kael. Touch gloves and let's have a clean fight, kids! Or not:

ATIKNSON: "The hot-pants Queen Victoria of American film criticism, Pauline Kael has now paid the debt of nature, providing the obituarians with the opportunity to finally top off their 35-year outpouring of ardor and awe. Never before has a film critic's living reputation sent so many scrambling for encomiums, and never has a film critic's passing left so many media mouths so verklempt."

DARGIS:
"(I)t's the fact that Kael was a woman that evidently sticks in Atkinson's craw. How else to explain his descriptions of her as a 'maenadic Mrs. Grundy,' a 'high priestess,' 'the wolverine bitch,' a 'hot-pants Queen Victoria,' and 'a miniature tigress with gray hair and barbed tongue.' Or Atkinson's ridiculous contention that Kael's 'relentless eminence' was, in part, a result of her gender."

ATKINSON:
"(T)he national brown-nosing performed upon her at the perpetual expense of much wiser critics has been absurd. ... As for Kael's sex, guess what: The American media got off on her doughty-dame public profile, as her unprecedented (for a film critic) eulogization demonstrated. Pick a knee-jerk gender fight if you want, but her writing still isn't all it's been cracked up to be."

O, for the old bloodletting days.

Posted at February 23, 2007 1:30 AM

Comments (1)

The Overrated Critics Clusterfuck.

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